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Explore Wisconsin’s Maritime Capitol, Manitowoc

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Nestled along the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, Manitowoc, offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and a rich maritime history. This charming city beckons visitors with its picturesque coastline, vibrant waterfront, and a myriad of maritime attractions that make it an enticing destination for history enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Let’s dive into the best reasons to visit Manitowoc, where the maritime adventure unfolds at every turn.

One of the biggest area attractions, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum stands as a testament to Manitowoc’s deep-rooted connection to the water. This world-class museum showcases the region’s rich maritime heritage, engaging visitors with interactive exhibits and captivating displays. You can walk through the Wisconsin-built boat gallery and a set depicting old Manitowoc streets, operate a steam engine, play in the Children’s Waterways Room, and even step aboard a real WWII submarine, the USS Cobia. Docked alongside the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, the USS Cobia stands as a living relic of naval history. This fully restored submarine offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the challenges faced by the brave submariners of World War II. Guided tours take visitors through the narrow corridors and cramped quarters of the submarine, providing an intimate understanding of the daily life aboard this historic vessel. As you explore the USS Cobia, you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the courage and sacrifice of those who served.

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum

For those seeking an outdoor adventure, the Mariner’s Trail offers a picturesque route for walking, jogging, and even cycling along the shoreline. Spanning a little more than six miles, this scenic trail provides stunning views of Lake Michigan and passes by numerous gardens, beaches, and recreational areas. Embrace the refreshing lake breeze as you explore the trail, with opportunities for birdwatching, picnicking, and even catching a glimpse of passing vessels along the horizon. Whether you’re looking to break a sweat or simply longing for a leisurely stroll, Mariner’s Trail is a gem waiting to be discovered.

One of those vessels making a daily stop to Manitowoc is the S.S. Badger, a passenger carferry that treks across Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc twice a day. From May to October, the Badger offers a mini cruise experience on the lake during its four-hour journey. Popular activities on board include bingo, watching movies in the theatre, perusing the car ferry’s museum, enjoying food and drink, checking out the gift shop, and basking in the sun on the bow.

S.S. Badger

Before you plan your trip, make sure to check the calendar as Manitowoc hosts a wide variety of festivals and events that make for the perfect afternoon for all ages. Some events to keep in mind when planning are Sputnikfest, Manitowoc’s wackiest festival celebrating space and art, Lakeshore Balloon Glow, which showcases hot air balloons on the riverfront, and the Wisconsin Sand Sculpting Festival.